Sunday, October 24, 2010

Firearms Practice

Whether you're preparing for something small and local like a home invasion, or even larger like a fascist government taking over, firearms are critical for maintaining security and personal safety.  Beyond directly tactical situations though, firearms are also a critical tool for survival in the wild. With enough time and knowledge one could likely make a bow and arrow and be a proficient hunter, however until that bow and those skills are acquired, you'd have to make due with simple hunting and gathering, which is fine, should you know how to do it.

Personally, I'd rather have a firearm and a good supply of ammunition to supplement my survival until I get those renewable bow-and-arrow making and firing skills down.  Furthermore, bowhunting takes a great deal of skill, not just with shooting the bow and hitting a target, but also with stalking and moving through areas unnoticed, a topic I'll get into another time.

This past weekend I went skeet and trap shooting (beautiful weather for it too!) with my Remington 870 Tactical Express (The lower gun.)  Above the 870 is a simple Crosman spring action pellet gun that shoots under 1100 fps (subsonic.)

The Remington is a great little gun, its a pump action 12 gage shotgun with an extended magazine that holds 6 rounds, plus 1 in the chamber. Very simple to operate, maintain and repair, and as such it makes an excellent weapon for survival.  I've modified it so far by adding a Recoil-Reducing Pistol Grip by Blackhawk, which helps a lot with kick, given that the weapon is 12 gauge.  I plan on further modifying it by changing out the foregrip (the part that you pump) with one that will hold a surefire flashlight, adding a side-saddle to hold another 6 rounds, and finally a set of Ghost Ring sights with tritium - an element that glows in the dark.  Being that two of the major modifications are specific to low light, it should be pretty clear that the biggest thing I'm worried about is home invasions at night.

From a survivalist standpoint, the shotgun should be your first weapon purchase. It is, hands down, the most versatile weapon, and in that sense provides the most bang for the buck.  Being that shotguns are used heavily in sporting, they are not only cheap, but very common, which means in a major SHTF situation, the ammunition will be both valuable to own, and easier to come by than a lot of types of rifle ammunition.

Shotguns are also excellent for hunting all types of game, from birds and varmints to deer the wide variety of ammunition provides an incredible amount of versatility.  It is extremely powerful at close range, and potentially effective out to 100 yards with rifled slug ammunition.  Unlike what most people might assume given what they see in movies or in videogames, the shotgun is pretty darn accurate at close range, and its spread doesn't really go beyond a hand's spread before 10 yards.  While at home, I keep my shotgun loaded with 00 Buckshot, as the cheaper small game rounds simply do not have enough power to stop someone.  A pellet of 00 buckshot will kill at 50 yards.

The Crosman 'Phantom' is another simple gun. Its a single-shot pellet gun I bought initially to take care of the mercy-killings I'd occasionally have to do on a poor rodent my cats would catch.  After purchasing however I found that it's pretty darn accurate out to 50 yards, and is furthermore more than enough to bag a rabbit or bird if needed.  Furthermore its an excellent gun for practicing the basics of shooting in a very low-profile way, given that it's subsonic. Additionally, 500 rounds of pellets are about 5$ so it's a very, very cheap way to practice marksmanship.  Also consider that in a SHTF situation, not having to expend valuable shotgun/.22/.223 ammunition while hunting small game, as well as not being heard while doing so would be very useful indeed.

Anyway, the skeet and trap was a boatload of fun, and I highly recommend it to anyone who is remotely interested in firearms. I put about 100 rounds through my relatively new shotgun and are that much more acquainted with the weapon.  You can own the world's most expensive rifle but if you've never used it for anything but posing in front of a mirror to look cool it's nearly useless.  I would like to get another 500 rounds through it before the year ends, but we'll see how that goes. Using your weapons gets you acquainted with how they feel, how the trigger feels, and how to operate a weapon smoothly and efficiently.  You don't always need to be at a range though to practice valuable firearms skills, though. I've taken to practicing speed reloading my shotgun from a bandolier (with the safety on and the chamber empty, of course) while at home and alone.  When I first started out I was quite slow, about 2-3 seconds per round, but now I can get a round from the bandolier into the magazine in under a second.  When I get the side saddle, though, most of my practice will be reloading with that weapon.

Additionally while home you can practice other valuable drills, such as getting to your weapon, unlocking it, and clearing the apartment/house/whatever. Which brings me to another point - part of owning a gun is being responsible about its possession. When I'm not practicing or firing it, I ALWAYS lock up the trigger and keep its ammunition stored in a cool, dry place away from any potential fire hazards.

When holding the weapon I also am mindful of the four rules

  1. All guns are always loaded (until you establish whether they are or not). 
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. Keep your gun pointed in a safe direction at all times: on the range, at home, loading, or unloading.
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target (and you are ready to shoot).
  4. Be sure of your target. Know what it is, what is in line with it and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything that you haven't positively identified.
Furthermore, responsible ownership of a firearm, in my opinion, is also knowing how the weapon works, and breaks apart.  If and when you acquire a firearm, make sure to take time to read the manual, to take it apart, an learn how to clean it just as well as you would learn to load and shoot the weapon. And when you go to a range, don't be afraid to ask questions. Most shooters aren't really dicks, and unless they're preoccupied will be more than happy to help you, or find someone to help you with your question. 

Finally, if you've got the money, take a course on your weapon, or basic tactics. I've still yet to do this, as  I have only recently bought my gun, the blog's name is newbie survivalism for a reason!

I should note though that whenever you're doing such home practicing, you should probably have your windowshades pulled down, and not simply for your own dignity. Weapons, in particularly scary looking black ones like the ones I own, will alarm neighbors and if you're unlucky, you might get the cops called on you.  Additionally, depending on where you live, its also a good idea to keep as low a profile about your gun ownership as possible. Operation Security is critical, and my next article should be about that

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tank on the Highway??

Sort of a tangent post today; was driving home from work and i passed an M1 Abrams tank being transported by truck on the highway, which was escorted by cop cars.  I wonder where it was going ... very odd and somewhat alarming.  Given the restrictions on explosives and weapons imagine for a moment  how utterly unstoppable one of these things would be should it happen to be turned on American Citizens.

Extremely unlikely, but something to consider I suppose

Sunday, October 17, 2010

CME, EMP and Ammo Cans

I went to a flea market this morning and while looking around stumbled across two good-sized ammo cans of decent quality, which I promptly purchased. Ammo cans are a great way to store and transport things of value, especially if they're electronic.

A month or two back the sun belched out a huge flare, which as luck would have it, was headed straight for our tiny planet.  A Coronal Mass Ejection, or CME, is a large release of plasma from the outer layers of the Sun. A large, fast-moving mass of highly radioactive and magnetic cloud of charged particles which is akin to an Electromagnetic Pulse. Thankfully this recent ejection didn't really affect us too much, but the sun is constantly ejecting huge clouds of radiation, and in our world of electronics and technology, a full on flare would likely be as catastrophic as Katrina, only on a Global Level.

On the first of September of 1859 the first coronal mass ejection that hit the earth was observed though its effects weren't quite clear.  Had the same ejection hit us 140 years later the first thing that would happen is every unshielded electronic device would simply stop working. Furthermore, it wouldn't go on again as all of its circuits would be Fried.  Take a second and look around you. Consider what in your immediate surroundings uses electricity. Lightbulbs, televisions, cellphones, computers, modems the pumps that drive your water, what heats your house ... consider now the world around you and how it operates.  Huge servers that contain data, your bank accounts, ATMs, the computers that drive distribution of food, electricity, the machines that make it ... one can go on and on about it.  Some cars, particularly new cars would stop working completely, navigation and radar for airports and airplanes, dead. Planes in the sky would need to land ... only without the electronic systems that run the complex devices within ... mayhem.

Without the distribution system and transport of food cities would almost overnight become a hell-hole of rioting and crime - without radios or phones police officers could only communicate by voice or signal, and even then I wouldn't bet on the officers remaining on duty in the first place.

If suddenly there was a blackout, and everyone's cell-phones were dead, I would assume an EMP from a high-altitude nuclear detonation, or a Coronal Mass Ejection from the sun, and I'd allow myself no more than 1 hour to get my stuff, and get out of the city, if my car were still working. Beyond that its logical to assume that you'd get trapped in the mass exodus or ensuing anarchy.

As I've put a fair amount of money into portable electronics, I seek to protect myself from huge losses should such events come to pass.  The best way to do such a thing would be to put your electronic devices in what is known as a Faraday Cage.  I won't go into specifics but  a faraday cage is basically a box or container of conductive metal or mesh that is grounded. The electromagnetic pulse would be absorbed and distributed via ground in a similar manner as a lightning rod.

Here's where Ammo cans come into play. They are water-proof, sealed metal boxes of conductive metal and as such, they make excellent faraday cages.  Furthermore, they usually have handles, arent too too heavy, and are relatively fire-proof.  I use ammo cans to store my computer and other electronic equipment at night (my laptop fits nicely) and when they're not in use during the day.  At work I have an ammo can under my desk lined with foam that I'll throw my backup harddrives, mp3 player and phone into when I arrive.

Beyond EMP protection Ammo cans are excellent for also storing ammunition, and even food (if you're worried about vermin)  They are also fairly fireproof and would make good containers for important documents and photos.  The only drawback is that they can be somewhat unappealing to the eye and can stand out in a way that might make you look odd to visitors.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Workout Continued

Based off of some of the responses, I figured it'd be good to update today with something a little shorter (I've got a longer post in the works) appending what I've said earlier.

My current workout is a sort of personalized version of P90X - the very popular workout program that most people know of.  I've done the p90x program, and the only reason I was able to stick with it was because I had been working out and running for about 6 months prior to beginning it. I would NOT recommend doing p90x as a 'lets start working out!' program. The first week alone is enough to exhaust a lot of relatively in-shape people. p90 is a great program, though. It'll work you out long, and hard, and you will most definitely see results, even if you don't stick to the diet like I did.  However, a lot of the excersizes are tailored for working out specifically at home - which is fine, but some of them I've found can hurt my lower back, and the same basic exercise can be done at the gym with less stress and impact on a pulley machine, or with barbells.

I was eventually forced to modify p90x after I had done it 3 times, because it simply took up so much time, and required really really diligent eating habits - you really felt it if you ate junk food that day.  Working out at least an hour and a half a day is a great way to lose weight and get in shape, for sure.  Given how big I am, I ended up having to eat about 3,500 calories daily just to break even! But then again, its an hour and a half, 6 days a week!  Some days two hours ... I had to cut it down, as I had other things that needed to be done.  Sow now I still work out about 5 hours a week, but it is less intense, usually just over an hour.  I've also reduced the exercise diversity (a staple of p90) and in most cases just do more reps.  Here's a basic breakdown of my week:

Monday: Chest and Back - Basically, varying types of pushups and pullups, with some bench pressing and rowing.
Tuesday: Running or Jump Training - Either run 3-4 miles off trail through the woods, or do the jump training sequence I learned from p90
Wednesday: Arms and Shoulders - Focus is primarily on Biceps, Triceps, Deltoids, and Mastoids, a mix of curls, shoulder presses, dips, you name it.
Thursday: More running followed by the p90 ab routine
Friday: Pullups and and Legs - Squats, Lunges, and all sorts of pullups

Occasionally I'll take a day off, and then shift the other workouts a day later, but I try to keep to this routine as best as I can.  After every excersize I drink a protein smoothie, which is basically:

Skim Milk
a Scoop of whey protein
a Big spoonful of peanut butter
a Handful of Oats
a Spoonful of creatine powder
a Multivitamin
Eight Ice Cubes

And a flax seed capsule, though I don't mix this in, but eat it separately

It is extremely important to have some sort of protein input within an hour after workout, as well as water throughout.  Your body needs protein to repair the muscles, and without something in your digestive tract, it'll take the protein from other places - like muscles that haven't been worked that day. If you really want to see results in strength and looks, you've gotta rock the protein!

The drawback, however, is that your body needs a lot of food to run, and in a survival situation you've got to realize your daily nutritional and caloric needs, so you can fill them and keep running strong. Knowing what you need to eat is also helpful for food storage and any sort of long-term prepping.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Weekend fun

So I was in California last weekend (hence the lack of updates ... red eye flights are killer) in the middle of a redwood forest meeting with some friends.  Absolutely beautiful.  All in all I had a great weekend but I just wish I had gotten more drunk - the booze out there is so cheap!!

However, the food is more expensive.

Anyway, this weekend I'm participating in a "Warrior Dash" event which is sadly not as booze-laden than I originally thought. Either way, it's been a good excuse for me to really focus in working out towards a goal. Working out has for a while been somewhat of a difficult thing for me until about two years ago. It mostly revolved around having the inspiration to do so. Eventually I got pretty sick of being overweight and out of shape, and goaded on by a breakup I sort of had a paradigm shift in thinking about working out. Since then I've been running at least twice a week, and lifting around 3 times a week.

The survival thing has also helped by being an impetus for working out. If you're stranded downtown with a short period of time to escape, could you run three miles? Five?   If you were trapped under rubble or something fallen, could you lift it off yourself? off a friend? If you needed to climb over a wall or climb up a tree to see an area, can you do a pull-up?

These are simple physical feats that surprisingly few people these days seem to have. In addition to simply looking good and having more self-confidence, being in shape is critical if you're interested at all in survivalism. Its one thing to have a gun, or a bug out bag but if you can't travel long distances with either then having them in the first place is somewhat moot.

Supposing a Coronal Mass Ejection hits Earth. Every single unshielded electronic on the planet is out. Your car doesn't start, but you're downtown at work. Are you going to be able to hike the 10 miles out to your house to your go-bag, then hike another 10 the next day to escape the now lawless city? Can you outrun others seeking to rob or harm you?

I work in part to be a step above the average person, above my friends so I can help them if i need to. And fitness comes in handy, often. I ran out of gas once about 3 miles from a station, out of cell phone range with no one around. 50 minutes later I was driving happily away after I jogged to the gas station with a water bottle, filled it up and jogged back to the car.

Getting into a workout routine most people just try to dive in and go crazy - and crazy they go! They work out too hard, and are sore for a week which discourages them to continue it. Ultimately they stop working out.  The key to becoming active in fitness, I've found, is to ease slowly into it. If you do 10 pushups and think you can do another 20 ... do 5 more (15 total, half of 30) and slowly ease into things. If you feel you can run a mile, run half a mile, etc etc.

Additionally a lot of people get sort of daunted by all of the big machines at the gym, or cant afford a machine.  Machines are nice, but aren't really necessary. In reality all you need is a pair of gym shoes, and a pullup bar.  Various types of Pullups, Pushups, and Crunches mixed with running around your neighborhood are simple and easy enough to do, and easy enough to work into your daily routine. I started by putting a pullup bar in my bedroom door frame - every morning when I woke up I just did as many pullups as I could, then dropped down and did the same with pushups.  Both pushups and pullups are nice, compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups, and promote general strength.  A good start to any fitness.

In the future i may get more into my personal workout routine, for those who are already active.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Small Hiatus

Was out for the past few days travelling, apologies for the lack of updates.  I'll be back in gear in the next few days.  For now though, enjoy this fun bit o knowledge :

Monday, September 27, 2010


It is my personal opinion that within my lifetime I will experience a large catastrophe of some sort, if not a wide-scale socio-economic paradigm shift. At worst, a complete societal collapse is completely possible.  In the future, I'll explain some of these situations, but for now just know that I am fairly certain that these things have a high probability of coming to pass.  As such I feel it is important to educate, and 'awake' others to the possibilities of these things, particularly those I love.  

My goal is to eventually have a small group of people who I am close with and trust who are all preparing, who would participate in purchasing a bug-out retreat, and training.  The basic notion is that you're better off with a group than alone - multiple people can do much more work, can chip in for purchasing of land, and have a wider skill-set. 

Most people don't want to confront the inevitability of something like Peak oil, or its implications given the high population density of America.  It is important to ease them into the notion rather than shock them - people in general are more willing to commit to something if they come to the conclusion to do it on their own rather than be told.  I'm currently in the process of recruiting some people, and its slow going!

I've got a gaggle of friends who have at one point in time expressed interest in survivalism or camping, and the plan is to get together with all of them, and do fun things.  Simple stuff like learning to make fire with nothing but a knife, a shelter that'll keep you warm and dry in the middle of a snowstorm out of sticks and leaves. In teaching these things I can interject small bits of possibilities for survival situations to get them thinking, and gradually expose them to more severe possibilities and eventually the notion of a survival 'group,' which, if I do it right, they'll come to the conclusion of on their own.  

I was to meet these folks this past weekend, but unfortunately no one showed up, so I'm a bit bummed.  In a few weeks though I'll try again, and hopefully I'll have some better results to report upon.